Four Tips For The Perfect Steak, From A Gordon Ramsay Executive Chef
There are plenty of myths floating around about the best way to cook a steak. Don’t use a fork to flip your steak. (Wrong.) Only season your steak after it’s done cooking. (Nope.) Filet is the only cut that matters. (Have you ever had a well-cooked sirloin, you philistine?) Well, Samantha Love, executive chef at Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Horseshoe Baltimore, knows her way around a cut of beef. And she shared some of her secrets to cooking the best steak ever.
Tip #1: Don’t Flip Out
We all know that home chef who can’t quit fidgeting with their food. They’re always shaking the sauté pan or stirring the sauce or opening the oven door and letting all the heat out. When it comes to cooking a steak, all that kitchen scuffling is actually making your meat taste worse.
“One of the most common mistakes a home chef makes is turning the meat too much,” Love says. “You have to let the steak cook and create the proper Maillard Reaction before flipping to the other side.” The Maillard Reaction refers to chemical process that leads to browned foods being so insanely delicious. The process itself is so complex that scientists have only recently started to identify exactly what’s happening on the surface of browned foods, but put simply it refers to the combined reactions of certain proteins and sugars on the outer layer of foods. (This is different than caramelization which refers only to the decomposition of particular sugars at certain temperatures.) By letting that steak sizzle a long time on either side, you’re allowing the steak to develop the deep, layered flavor profile that you know and love. So please, flip the steak just once when you’re cooking.
Tip #2: Keep it Simple
For quality cuts of beef, you shouldn’t get fancy with the seasonings. Let the protein speak for itself. “When you splurge on a great piece of meat, all you need is salt and pepper,” Love says. “There’s no need to oversaturate the meat with different seasonings.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up your cut of beef once it’s cooked perfectly. Make a quick compound butter by combining butter, herbs like parsley or thyme, some minced garlic, and the juice from half a lemon. Throw it in the fridge overnight and top off your finished steak with a slice of that rich yellow goodness for a very straightforward, but truly decadent, meal.
Tip #3: Give it a Rest
When you sear your steak on a scorching-hot pan, you’re really creating a crust that’s helping to retain all of those delicious, beefy juices. But as much as you probably want to stick that entire tomahawk cut in your mouth like you’re Fred Flintstone, letting your dinner rest a few minutes will lead to an infinitely tastier experience. “If you don’t let your steak rest, then as soon as you cut into it, you lose all of those beautiful juices,” Love says. For big cuts, let them rest at least 10 minutes; smaller ones need between 5 and 7 minutes for optimal results.
Tip #4: Respect the Beef
You went to the nice local butcher who only buys grass-fed beef raised in complete silence by a reclusive group of monks in the hills of Narnia, so please, in the name of all things delicious, please give your cut of beef some TLC. That includes letting your meat get to the right temperature before letting it hit a red-hot pan. “You need to allow your meat to come to room temperature before cooking to get the best possible finished product,” Love says. “Treat the meat as the special protein that it is.” Love makes sure that everyone in her kitchen at Gordon Ramsay Steak treats their primetime provisions with that golden rule. “When you go out to eat and you spend $50 or $90 on a steak you want the people that cook it to appreciate that and respect that meat,” Love says. So, the next time you throw a filet or tenderloin in a pan, regardless of the cut, treat it like a million bucks, and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking. Your taste buds, and your guests, will thank you.